The New Year represents a new start. If you're currently unemployed and looking for work, circle January 1 on your calendar and start putting a plan in place to start fresh with these proven job-search tips.
- Commit the Time
There's no way around it – finding a job takes time. Make searching for a job your new job. Stake out a place in your home – or use free available space in the community such as a library meeting room or local restaurant – that you will use to conduct your search. Get the supplies together that you need and stay organized. Create a schedule and stick to it. As Tory Johnson, Good Morning America workplace contributor and author of "Fired to Hired" says, "when you divide your job search into daily tasks and weekly goals you stand a better chance of fulfilling the big goal – landing a job - with greater ease."
- Blow Up the Box
In a tough economy with double-digit unemployment you're going to face more competition for fewer jobs. You may need to expand your thinking and get creative about how you could use your background, skills and interests in the workplace. For example, just because you have been in sales for the past 10 years doesn't mean you are limited to sales as a career. Maybe it was the one-on-one interactions you enjoyed and your communication skills were your greatest sales asset. What about using that background and talent in a different field, say as an admissions counselor for a nearby college or university? Or could you be interested in working as a development officer for a nonprofit organization? Think beyond your past and expand your job possibilities.
- Update Your Resume
If you haven't updated your resume put that at the top of your "to do" list. It's not going to be the silver bullet that secures you a job, but you won't be able to get an interview without it. (Learn more in Resume Scribes Seal The Deal.)
- Use Social Networks
The digital world has blown the doors off traditional job search methods. Social networking tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and even local websites like Craigslist can help you bypass some of the traditional barriers between you and an employer by providing a way to connect directly with people at the companies where you would like to work. It's not enough to just create a profile, however. You need to get active. Use the networks to, well,…network. Join groups that could help provide connections such as alumni groups for your previous employers or schools, fan pages for potential employers, and use the sites' job marketplaces.
- Post Your Resume
Use job-searching websites like Monster.com, Careerbuilder.com and Jobster.com to both learn about job openings and let hiring employers know about your availability. If you're willing to do a little more work use VisualCV.com to help you stand apart from the crowd. The site allows you to create your own branded webpage which you can post online and send to hiring managers.
- Join the Club
Career clubs are popping up nationwide to help out-of-work job searchers. These clubs provide people with camaraderie, contacts and information about how to overcome common job hurdles. Google "job clubs" or "career clubs" to find leads on how to connect with other local job-hunters.
- Hit the Streets
Phone calls and emails are necessary, but getting in front of people face to face could be what really sets you apart from other applicants. Identify your best job prospects, do some research to find out who you need to talk to at those organizations and then get in the car and go. Drop by the office and ask if you can simply give your resume to the hiring manager in person. Don't push for an interview on the spot, but rather explain that you want to let them know of your interest, drop off your resume and complete an application while you're there if possible. (Fore more job-search tips, read Job Hunting: Higher Pay Vs. Better Benefits.)
- Consider Something Temporary
If full-time work isn't on the horizon but the bill collectors are, look for temporary or seasonal work to help make ends meet. Before signing up with just any temporary agency find one that has proven success placing workers who have your skill set and preferably with employers in your field of interest.
Keep at It
Finding a job is usually not easy work. Overcome inertia and frustration by viewing it as a short period of time in which you can make a long-term investment in your own future.
For more tips on landing a job, read Taking The Lead In The Interview Dance and Career Shift: Get In The Driver's Seat.